It’s been four years since the chaotic time. Malorie and her two kids now stay in a house fully covered with drapes, cardboards, and wooden panels. Four years is also for as long Malorie hasn’t seen outside. For the kids, that means their whole life they have never seen the sky, or grass, or earth.
Any survivor has shut the outside world out completely for the fear of their lives. This thing, or creature, that is lurking outside has not been seen by anybody’s alive, because even one glimpse at them, will make you go mad and then, the madness will have you kill yourself. Everyone who’s seen it has died, in every most harrowing way.
In this new world, sight is deathly. Malorie has been forced to train the kids not to see, but to listen. A skill that Malorie would eventually have to trust and depend on if they were ever to get out of this house, to seek for a safe haven, to find someone else alive. Anyone.
Bird Box is Josh Malerman’s debut novel, which has been made a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock.
As a fan of apocalyptic stories, I really loved this book! This new world that Malerman has invented, has a new set of rules and new elements that would leave any survivor paranoid and scared for their lives constantly and perpetually. The one thing that you have to deliberately lose in this new world is sight. And when you can see nothing, your other senses automatically heighten. In a bad situation, that just makes you suspicious of everything you hear, everything you touch, everything you smell. Everything becomes several fold more frightening in your head.
The novel makes for a good suspense, I think, mainly thanks to Malerman’s unique writing style. The way he breaks his words into short to very short sentences. How he focuses on any tiniest subjective feeling that is intensified in a character’s mistrustful mind. And also, the meticulous explanation he’s given on how the new world works, has detailed what’s what and has outlined the story with such a clear frame for the readers.
I was hooked from the very first chapter right to the last word. I swear, I am not exaggerating. The absolute fear that the lead suffers because of the fact that she has to survive together with two really young children, increases the stakes by a lot. It kinda reminded me of the movie Quiet Place, where the family has three small kids, and the youngest actually gets killed by his frivolousness. Children always serve as an unpredictable aspect of a story, and unpredictable is at all times scary when you’re on the run from something.
Another thing, I also noticed that when you are forbidden to see, somehow your capability of reasoning is lessened significantly. You lose your sensible self, and you’re more prone to paranoia than ever. Assemble numerous paranoid people, and you’ll get definite horror. And that’s what Josh tries to exploits using flashbacks when Malorie still has all of her survivor folks. A bunch of paranoids tend to over-exaggerate problems, fight at the first sniff of disagreement, and instead of solving problems, most of the times they’re just making themselves more and more frightened than they’ve already been.
Some characters that end up taking space more than others are equally challenging and intriguing, some are overly positive and some are overly pessimistic about the same situation. But the bottom line is disagreement is dangerous in apocalypse, because in the presence of catalyst, the worst scenario is death.
Oh my God, yes. I would recommend this book and I would read another book by Josh Malerman for sure. One thing that got me the hardest was his singular storytelling style. I was awed by its distinctiveness and how he could give even one word full suspense. I am not kidding, his words are that controlling!
But again, a little disclaimer, I get scared a lot easier than most people. Like a lot, a lot. More often than not, what scares me has a slim chance that it would frighten others. So, just keep that in mind.
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